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Can I move my mom into a nursing home while her Medicaid application is pending?

Elderly Mother With a Nurse in a Nursing HomeWhen your loved one is having health issues, it can be difficult to make the decisions on getting good care and thinking about how government benefits, such as Medicaid, can help. Medicaid is a part of our social safety net to help the needy pay for the cost of long-term care. Medicaid can help pay for nursing home care, assisted living or in-home care, but the asset and income rules, among other matters, are strict for those applying. 

Sometimes, the elder is living at home and the family cannot help any longer or the elder is just too needy to be home safely. This may mean that the elder must go directly to a nursing home due to their long-term care needs. But can an elder apply for long-term care Medicaid before moving to a nursing home? The basic answer is NO.

 

Nursing Homes May Not Accept a Medicaid-Pending Resident

In the best-case scenario, a person will apply for Medicaid well before they need care, but there is a wait-list for long-term care benefits at home. This may mean that the elder does not come off the wait-list before needing to transition to a nursing home, which may mean that you cannot apply for Medicaid until the elder is actually in the nursing home.

When someone applies for Medicaid, this is generally known as being "Medicaid pending." But you cannot be Medicaid pending until you are:

  • In a nursing home (i.e., skilled nursing facility/rehabilitation facility); and
  • You have actually applied for Medicaid. 

Unfortunately, most long-term care facilities will not someone who comes into the facility unless the are private paying. All of this is confusing but the big picture is that if the elder does not have money, placing into a nursing home is difficult without private paying.  The reasons are as follows:

  • The nursing home might not be reimbursed. There's no guarantee that a pending application will be approved. Nursing homes may be unwilling to take on a resident without a guarantee of benefits from the government to offset their costs.
  • Approval may not be retroactive. Even if a resident is approved for Medicaid, there's no guarantee that they will receive retroactive benefits. If benefits are only provided for the future, the resident and their family will have to pay for any costs incurred between the date of admission and the date of approval.
  • Eligibility may be deferred. Many Medicaid applications contain errors, discrepancies, or incomplete information, causing problems that defer eligibility. Medicaid generally won't cover any delays due to application mistakes, so costs will fall on the resident for care received during this time.

Of course, there are many situations where families may be unable to wait for government assistance before moving an elder into a nursing home. If your loved one's care needs are changing, our legal team can answer your questions and help you secure the benefits you need. When an elder law attorney is helping the family apply for Medicaid, a long-term care facility may accept someone Medicaid pending as the facility will trust the elder law attorney's representations that the elder will get Medicaid.

If you want help, simply fill out our quick contact form or call DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis at (727) 777-6842 to set up a consultation.